John Chuckman



“The War on Assange Is a War on Press Freedom”

“The persecution of Assange is part of a broad assault against anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist news organizations.”


Wow, what an excellent piece of analysis.

I wouldn’t subtract or change a word.

I might add a point or two.

Chris Hedges includes the rot of money in American politics, but there is a lot more to be said about what is at the very heart of things.

The extent of it is not well understood by the average American and certainly not understood by observers abroad.

America has basically managed to create an elaborate political system with all the showy external trappings of democracy but almost none of its content.

America today is run by a relatively small number of people who control the levers in both parties because they control the money available, truckloads of it. These people are served by the American empire’s security-military apparatus and the politicians in Washington who are beholden to them.

The whole gang together, what I tend to call America’s power establishment, has an almost closed system serving themselves. That is why nothing beneficial or useful or even decent can get done in America anymore. And, of course, they do not like those who, like Assange, bring any light to the dark realities of American government.

The unquestioned power of that money-drenched American establishment is why there is now a continuous stream of wars which are not in the average American’s interest at all but are buried under thick layers, almost like stage make-up, of rhetoric about Patriotism and defending freedom.

There are almost no useful or effective rules governing the use of money in American politics. There are also no useful or effective rules governing the operations of America’s immensely powerful special-interest lobbies.

So, if I were a motivated young politician with some good ideas and intentions, I would virtually never stand a chance against the establishment candidate whose millions buy television ads, enable him to travel everywhere with elaborate support, and have the services of everything from a make-up man to pollsters and public relations flacks.

Of course, accidents do happen, and, once in a thousand times, a little guy does manage to win owing to some peculiar local set of circumstances, an event which will be jumped on by the establishment press as showing that things still work for the little guy in America. But such events are almost meaningless because their numbers are necessarily so small. They do not characterize the system because they cannot.

An individual little hero here or there, as a Bernie Sanders, means nothing in the big picture. Its just like a nice little bookstore trying to compete with Amazon or a local specialty soft drink maker trying to compete with Coca-Cola.

They can have their tiny local business, but they cannot dream of seriously competing with the monster corporation. And the truth is often that the monster corporation can put them out of business at any time it decides to do so, or it can buy them out, but it is usually not worth the effort.

Many people do not understand that marketing products has become a monstrous effort which includes everything from research and nonstop advertising to literally buying the shelf space for products from the local grocery store chains. You, as a small producer of anything, can often barely get space on the store shelves, will certainly not be able to get the favorable paid-for space at eye-level and easy-reach, and may indeed in some cases be closed out completely from getting space. That’s just part of the way corporate marketing works.

America has taken these proven practices from corporate business and applied them to politics. Every step in a modern political election campaign reflects the same kinds of efforts as Coca-Cola or Frito-Lay pushing their products, and it all costs a great deal of money. You need money just to recover from money spent on a tactic that proves not to work. And money itself acts as what economists call “a barrier to entry” against potential competitors. You are, in effect, not even allowed to play cards at the table without a very large stake.

The only way to stop this behavior in politics, so that candidates could have a fairer opportunity to talk about their actual ideas and views, would be to choke off the money, but no one with power is willing to do that because everyone of them benefits from the way things are run.

Note also that money not only closes off honest campaigning and exchange of ideas, it serves to discourage from running those who have sincerely-held independent views and a desire for changing something that is wrong. This way of doing things is responsible for pre-packaged candidates and lists of campaign phrases out of manuals. In those senses, too, it is closed system.

But the people putting up the large amounts of political campaign money – literally billions in every major American election – want things to be exactly that way. They don’t want surprises or significant change. They want what they want and what they pay for. It is easy to see the tendency for government to become plutocracy, no matter what nice words are written on pieces of parchment kept in museums.

When a country has become an international imperial force, such as the United States very much has, it is just not the money people who want things to remain as they are. It is the powerful groups running massive agencies like the Pentagon and CIA. They, too, spend vast amounts of money, most of it serving the interests of those same money people, and they do not want change.

Great bureaucracies always have a tendency to protect and perpetuate themselves. The values and intentions of huge forces like the Pentagon and CIA are not friendly to democratic principles, no matter what their charters may say. They are intrinsically authoritarian organizations, and the more they grow and influence a society, the less it becomes a free place, again no matter what the old words on parchment say.

They are, of course, the natural allies of the money people. They serve them abroad in the workings of empire and have a common interest in minimizing political change at home. It is easy to see why ordinary citizens come to feel politics is useless and unresponsive to them. It is.

Whether you vote for Democrats or Republicans, you get the Pentagon, the CIA, the money people, and a ruthless empire abroad, with just some differences in rhetoric. Here again the system operates much like great corporations with their promotional and marketing wars for McDonald’s or Burger King, Coke or Pepsi. Huge amounts of money are spent, and the result is a choice between products similar in most essential respects. Both corporations prosper and their vast walls of spending make it mighty hard for any new competitors to enter against them. That is pretty much what American politics is reduced to.

And this way of operating applies not only to political campaigns in America but to matters like major foreign policy. Take the example of the bizarre relationship America has with Israel, a country with a population the size of Ecuador’s. It is a relationship which causes great amounts of war and trouble in the world and truly works against the long-term interests of ordinary Americans, to say nothing of its spurning of all ethical principles.

The relationship is based on the same money-drenched methods which govern American politics. Israel, despite its insignificant size and greatly troubling behavior, is able to stay right at the forefront of things, to be on every politician’s lips, to be constantly mentioned (favorably) in the press, and to heavily influence American foreign policy through exactly the same mechanisms.

Some of its demands today are even going beyond foreign policy and into the internal affairs of the United States, as with the constant advocacy for laws making support for peaceful boycotts to influence Israel’s awful behavior illegal or the advocacy for laws in every state equating criticism of a powerful state actor like Israel with hate-speech. Just nasty, self-serving nonsense, but it goes on day after day with little attention paid.

Well, Washington’s establishment today just goes on and on about supposed Russian influence in America. It is unproved stuff serving powerful imperial establishment interests, but, even were there some bit of truth in the accusations, the underlying reality of Russian influence in America is a bad joke. Russia cannot even get a good word in the press and is treated unfairly in countless serious matters.

When I saw the silly Facebook stuff, about so many insignificant ads having been bought during the election by a few people in Russia, offered as evidence of influence, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Out of countless billions of dollars in advertising and advocacy on Facebook, the claim represented national concern about someone spitting into an ocean.

But here is Israel and its domestic advocates waging a vast and ongoing campaign to influence a great many matters inside America – from freedom of speech and peaceful protest action to foreign affairs and every national political campaign held – and we hear no complaints or concerns at all. And Israel’s influence in foreign affairs has been deadly, tumbling America into pointless wars time and again.

And it is doing so again, right now. Only recently, we have a recording leaked in Israel of Netanyahu bragging about how he is personally responsible for Trump’s destroying the Iran Nuclear Accord, an act opposed by every expert and most countries on earth, and an act causing dangerous tensions and threats of instability and hostilities.

Israel doesn’t have to worry because it is protected. But what about everyone else? The results of deliberately destroying a peaceful, smoothly-working international accord could be truly catastrophic.

A small country is able to leverage the United States in this unacceptable and dangerous way, against the wishes of almost every statesman and expert in the world, precisely because of the way America runs its national politics. Trump is looking to assure the success of his 2020 campaign, and everyone else on the planet is taxed with fear and threats so that he can feel secure politically. I think nothing better demonstrates the insanity of America’s laws about money in politics.

But we keep getting the silly distraction of what a threat to American democracy Russia is, simply an idiotic and unsupported idea. Meanwhile, Israel’s direct meddling in American politics threatens to bring an economic and military calamity down on our heads, and you will not find a word of criticism from politicians or the press.

Israel’s lobby in the United States is one of the best organized, best financed, and feared in existence. If you go along with it, you benefit with campaign money and good press and perhaps assistance from various experts and professionals. If you oppose it, those same resources will be applied to working against you and making you look bad in one way or another. It undoubtedly has information systems for tracking all political activities and attitudes that would be the envy of many large corporations.

It is easy to see that if the rules governing lobbies and campaign donations were changed, this would all come screeching to a halt. American policy in the Mideast could reflect fairness and decency and even most of America’s long-term interests. Wars and threats and terrible things like millions of desperate refugees created by those same wars would disappear.

But you will not see it changing any time soon in a country whose hideous Supreme Court – each member appointed by politicians benefiting from things just as they are – has ruled that money is “free speech,” just as it once ruled in favor of the rules governing slavery. No one with power in Washington wants change, just as the various estates (the great lords and churchmen) of the Ancien Régime in 18th century France wanted no change affecting their personal situations and privileges. And their unblinking selfishness ultimately brought catastrophe to France.

The model for Israel’s influence in American politics is the model for the general operation of the American government. The same elements are at work in every important matter. And that’s why there is continuous war, massive security and spying systems, gigantic corporations with no limits on their size and influence, and no attention paid to the pitiful rot and poverty so easy to find in a thousand places in America.

Men like Assange – and there are few of them, just as there are always relatively few brave and intelligent people who work to change what is wrong in the world (after all, gifted people can make a whole lot more money by going with the flow of things and working for a corporation) – become effectively “the enemies of the people” under the system. His work shed light on the rot and served as real investigative reporting, while the corporate press just functions as part of the system, defending it, avoiding investigating it, and almost never publishing anything adverse about it.

The corrupt nature of America’s national politics is nicely symbolized by Obama, a man so often regarded (wrongly) as liberal and principled. He came to politics as a second-rate lecturer in constitutional law, the kind of work that earns a moderate middle-class income and maybe a pension. Yet, he just left the presidency as a man worth literally tens of millions of dollars. His new home alone cost more than eight million dollars.

Doing the establishment’s work – which in Obama’s case involved killing hundreds of thousands of people abroad and supporting massive new intrusions into the privacy of Americans – is very rewarding. And that is pretty well the story of every major American politician.

Posted July 22, 2018 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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